Is Cast Iron Magnetic? [Technically, Yes, But…]

Yes. While cast iron is not thought of as being magnetic, it actually is.

This unique property has its advantages, but what does it actually mean to be magnetic, and why is cast iron magnetic?

Let us explain.

Explaining: Is Cast Iron Magnetic?

What Does Magnetic Mean?

Most people think of something as being magnetic, and they think of magnets and their fridges.

This, however, is a bit of an oversimplification.

To be magnetic is a property that some metals have, due to the structure of their atoms.

For instance, if electrons in an atom spin in one direction, or mostly one direction, then that metal is going to be attracted to other metals that have similarly structured atoms.

When they meet, they create a magnetic field, which charges the force of its magnetics and brings the two metals together.

This field also creates two poles, one of which attracts the other magnet and the other that repels it. 

Magnets or magnetic metals are much more common than most people tend to realize.

The Earth itself, for instance, is magnetic.

That’s because currents of electricity are flowing through the molten core of the Earth.

Those electrons then flow outwards from the Earth.

This magnetic core is incredibly important to making life on Earth possible.

The magnetic field actually protects the Earth from solar flairs that could otherwise strip away the ozone layer.

Meanwhile, humans and other animals have adapted to living life on Earth, with its magnetic field.

This way, people aren’t impacted in their day to day life from those fields.

However, travelers using a compass or pilots trying to fly from point a to point b will use magnets all the time to help them navigate. 

What Are Magnets?

Being magnetic and being a magnet isn’t the same thing.

Cast iron, for instance, is magnetic, but it’s different from a magnet itself.

A magnet is an alloy or material that is composed of atoms ordered so that the material becomes magnetic.

This makes it attracted to other magnets or a magnetic field. 

Most of the magnets that people see in their daily lives are designed for use around the house or work.

Hanging something on the fridge, or putting a magnet on the car are both common ways you may use magnets in your daily life.

Stronger magnets do exist too, with varying purposes.

For instance, they’re commonly used in computers to store data and power speaker systems. 

What is Iron?

Iron is known as a metal that is also a chemical element on the periodic table, Fe.

In fact, it’s the most common element on Earth.

That means it’s more common than elements like Oxygen.

With that being said, iron is most common in the form of iron ore, which is abundant in the Earth.

As a metal, it’s less common.

Still, iron as a metal has been one of the most important things that humans have ever been able to harness.

For instance, steel is a form of iron that has allowed humans to build cities upwards.

Skyscrapers have allowed more people to pack into densely populated areas, allowing for the population centers to boom.

Meanwhile, the Iron Age saw advancements in weaponry and the structure of society as a whole.

Still, that palls in comparison to the impact iron had during the industrial revolution, when supplies made from iron propelled a new age of production and manufacturing. 

Even the human body needs iron, as iron deficiency can be dangerous for people, as their red blood cell count can cause anemia.  

This is because, in the body, iron helps blood carry oxygen throughout the body. 

What Makes Cast Iron Unique?

While cast iron only contains a small amount of carbon, it is still magnetic.

It also has a wide variety of uses.

That’s because the difference between iron and cast iron, in the metal form, is minimal.

The difference is in the word cast, which simply means that molten iron is poured into a mold, where it then cools and hardens.

This is possible because iron will melt at a lower temperature than many other metals.

Once it’s taken out of the mold, it is then cast into a shape to be used going forward.

Many people will first think about a cast iron pot or pan that they’d used in their kitchen.

These are popular in the kitchen, as they properly distribute the heat source over the entirety of the cast iron pan.

Cast iron is also popular in making pipes for homes and different waterlines, as well as parts for cars, as cast iron’s durability makes it a great option for a variety of uses that require long-term uses. 

Why is Cast Iron Magnetic?

Cast iron is magnetic because iron is magnetic, and cast iron is just a shaped form of iron.

Iron itself is magnetic due to the electrons that are within it.

They almost entirely spin in the same direction as one another.

This makes them attracted to other metals that are similarly magnetic.

Cobalt and nickel are similar metals in this case.

The force that is between the atoms in these metals creates a magnetic field, and the cast iron itself is magnetic. 

For many people, magnets are just something that exists in their lives, which they almost never think about.

Cast iron, similarly, is something that a lot of people like to have in their home as a nicer pan to use, but they don’t think about its properties in any specific detail.

However, truly understanding these properties and why the elements that might have them is important to fully understand both why they matter and how they impact the different things that you have around your home.

In the case of cast iron, how it handles heat and interacts with different metals is incredibly important to know, with some dependence on what the purpose of your cast iron is going to be in the home.